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Welcoming Refugees

The first wave of Syrian refugees have begun the long process to successful settlement in Canada. Since November 2015, over 25,000 refugees have arrived in Canada, with a second wave starting slowly, including another 10,000 expected to arrive by the end of 2016.

There are three types of refugees coming into Canada through the federal program: government assisted refugees (GARs) who are supported by the federal government for up to one year after arrival; privately sponsored refugees (PSRs) who are supported by small groups of private sponsors; and the blended visa office-referred (BVOR) program. The BVOR program is a combination of the government and private sponsored models, whereby refugees are financially supported by the government for six months, but other supports and financial support for the remaining six months come from private sponsors.

Windsor and Essex County

As one of the original cities in Ontario designated by the federal government as a Resettlement Assistance Program (RAP) community, the City of Windsor, with its culturally diverse population and welcoming approach to all newcomers, has played a leading role as a resettlement site. 

Since November 4, 2015 the Windsor Essex community has received:

  • 893 government assisted refugees (GARs)
  • 152 private sponsored refugees (PSRs)
  • 17 blended visa office refugees (BVORs)

While it is unclear how many more Syrian refugees will arrive as part of this national effort, we do know that residents of Windsor and Essex County are coming together to assist with the resettlement process.

The lead agency is the Multicultural Council of Windsor and Essex County (MCC). It is federally funded to provide the first tier of resettlement services to GARs.  In a typical year the MCC welcomes 200 to 300 refugees from countries around the world. The extraordinary circumstances of the Syrian refugee effort resulted in an expansion of MCC's services in order to manage Syrian and non-Syrian GARs, coupled with innovative collaborations with partner agencies within key sectors such as settlement and language, education, health, employment, community supports and groups such as the Canadian Syrian Council and the Windsor Islamic Council.

A further expansion of service by Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) was created to enhance the settlement process. Earlier in 2016, IRCC designated additional temporary RAP sites, including the Municipality of Leamington, under the direction of New Canadian's Centre Excellence Inc. (NCCE) to lead the settlement process for Syrian refugees targeted for that part of Essex County, and approximately 102 GARS and 24 BVORs have settled in that community.

What is the Role of the City of Windsor in the Syrian Refugee effort?

Under the Commissioner of Community Development and Health, Jelena Payne, the approach is three-fold: communication, collaboration and inspiration. Since the outset, the Commissioner has been available to the media regarding information from the federal and provincial governments and how it may impact on our community. The City has worked with MCC to meet with leaders within the various sectors in anticipation of potential service delivery issues and played a key role in the community stakeholder meeting on refugee resettlement held in December 2015. Finally, the City is working closely with the Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership and its multitude of "ambassadors" to spread positive messages of welcome to newcomers and promote the benefits that newcomers bring to our community.

For additional information or to learn about ways you can help. please contact 211 (available 24/7).